Chaim Gingold, former lead designer of the Spore Creature Creator gave a keynote called “Magic Crayons: Spore and Beyond” at the Dutch Festival of Games.  Gamasultra has the scoop of what he said, and a lot of it is very interesting:

When detailing the design process behind the creature editor, Gingold said, “I think of it as Mission Impossible. You’ve got to get in there and steal the cheese.” In other words, there are difficult parameters, and designers must find ways to get around every obstacle.

And they had goals from the start. “We wanted the output of this editor to look pretty good,” Gingold recalled. Anything you wanted to make, he said, you had to be able to make easily – without frustration. “It had to be exciting and interesting.”

Spore solved a major problem, said Gingold, with its animation system. But it wasn’t easy. “Four years ago, there was a lot of back and forth between the animation and art teams.”

Beside obvious problems with animation and art, there was a question of size. Compression was important because Spore’s creatures had to be small enough to send over networks, and small enough to download as the game is in play. “The data is smaller than the size of the thumbnail,” reported Gingold, saying “The picture is 20k. The creature is 4k — it’s incredible.”

“The creature editor was the first one people would use in Spore, but also the hardest. So the others were easier,” he said of the development process.

 Read the rest